Visa, Phelps Go for the Gold

NEW YORK Visa broke a new commercial in its “Go world” campaign yesterday, commemorating Michael Phelps’ historic performance at the 2008 Beijing Olympic Games.
The commercial celebrates the athlete’s record-breaking achievement of winning the most career Olympic gold medals, 11. The ad continues the sepia-toned treatment of Visa’s ongoing Olympics campaign from TBWA\Chiat\Day, which began running in May. Images of Phelps in competition are featured as Morgan Freeman’s narration explains that the athlete has competed against the past, against the history books, but “most of all, he’s competed against himself. Congratulations Michael for having won more gold medals than anybody. Ever.” The spot ends with the image of Phelps, celebrating the U.S. team’s gold medal performance in the 4 x 100 meter freestyle relay.
“Michael Phelps truly embodies the spirit of our ‘Go world’ campaign that celebrates memorable Olympic moments and the extraordinary athletes who achieve them,” said Kevin Burke, head of consumer marketing at Visa. “We congratulate Michael on this momentous achievement and wish him the best as he continues his march towards Olympic history.”

Rob Schwartz, ecd at TBWA\Chiat\Day, Playa del Rey, Calif., said the idea of a Visa ad celebrating Phelps was conceptualized as early as April. “The media was already bought and we could have run any other part of the campaign,” Schwartz said. “But we had good info that [Phelps] would make this happen and we told the network, if he wins, do this, if not, go with another one.”

Schwartz said the real coup was integrating footage of a Phelps victory the day before into the spot less than a day later. “A major iconic moment happened with the freestyle, so to get that piece of film really made it,” Schwartz said. “That’s what it takes to be a good marketer: Visa is operating in real time, not sitting back and waiting for the events to happen but making the event relevant to this Olympics.”

Visa has been a worldwide Olympic partner for more than two decades. During the 2004 Summer Games in Athens, Greece, the company ran an ad showing Phelps swimming from Greece to the Statue of Liberty.